A brightly-colored soldier fly native to Australia has been named in honor of RuPaul.
Its full name is Opaluma rupaul. Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO, says the insect “forms part of the new Australian genus Opaluma (from the Latin words for opal and thorn), to reflect the iridescent colors of flies in this group and the distinctive thorn on the underside of their abdomens.”
The fly was named by Dr. Bryan Lessard, who has now named around 50 insects, beginning with a fly named after Beyoncé (Scaptia beyonceae) in 2011.
Lessard says that using pop culture references can help raise awareness around insect species, which are so crucial to the ecosystem. He told The Guardian that wildfires and other disasters have often focused attention on cute and cuddly animals like koalas, but that insects are just as important.
“There’s a new wave of entomologists using pop culture to generate interest in our science and what we do, which is really exciting.”
He told CNN that he also wanted to inspire other LGBTQ fans of nature and science.
“As a gay scientist, it took me a long time to feel comfortable in my own skin in a very traditional field of science ― in entomology. I think it’s really important for the next generation of LGBTQ+ scientists to know that they’re being represented in the workplace, as we give the names of legends in the community to memorable species.”
He said the RuPaul reference was “obvious”, given the fly’s attributes.
“I was watching a lot of RuPaul’s Drag Race while examining the species and I know it would challenge RuPaul on the runway serving fierce looks,” Lessard said.
“It has a costume of shiny metallic rainbow colors, and it has legs for days. I think once (Ru) sees the fly she’ll realize it’s quite fierce and hopefully appreciate the name.”
RuPaul has not commented on his new namesake but retweeted news of the naming.
— RuPaul (@RuPaul) September 15, 2021